"I think I detect a serious person," wrote an anonymous teenager ca. 1984, in reply to one of my posts on a local dial-up bulletin board. This was before the ARPAnet had spread much beyond its military/research origins --- a pre-PC era where a kid who could afford a spare phone line would hook up a 300 baud modem with an Apple II or an Atari or a Commodore computer in his (or rarely, her) bedroom. One person at a time could then call in, read messages, and type replies. Then s/he would hang up and another user would phone in to respond. It was a black-and-white text-only universe, but it was electronic and interactive and hugely fun.

The source of the "serious person" taunt? Apparently I had stumbled into a hangout of high school students, and had answered a perhaps-rhetorical question with excessive technical detail. Maybe it was a homework problem, a math or physics assignment. Frankly, I can't remember. But my reply was obviously far too formal for that environment, where most of the conversations revolved around who was going out with whom, which teachers were the toughest, and where the next weekend's party was going to be held.

So I took the accusation to heart. That was the last time that I've been accused of being a "serious person" ...

(see also PersonalEnergy (8 Dec 2000), ... )

TopicHumor - TopicPersonalHistory - 2003-11-13

(correlates: DisAvowal, MyJob, BaseballFootballBasketball, ...)